Buyers Guide: The Best Vinyl Cutting Machine for T-shirts (in 2021)

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  • Making T-shirts for yourself or for your friends is a great way to express your style, passion and sense of humor 
  • Using a vinyl cutter and HTV is a cheap, fast way to make high-quality, unique shirts
  • If you are looking to start a small business or side hustle, options like the 24″ Silhouette Cameo Pro is a top choice for the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts

T-shirt businesses are the ultimate side hustle of the internet age. Not only are t-shirts are great gifts or walking advertisements, but t-shirts are the uniform of a young generation that make bold statements. Making t-shirts for yourself or for sale has never been easier, which is why we ranked the best vinyl cutting machine for t-shirts to help you get started.

Pressing t-shirts with heat transfer vinyl is an easy way to make great looking garments with high buyer appeal. You have your choice of dozens of colors and finishes of vinyl. Literally, your imagination is the limit.

Even if you want to make t-shirts for a special event like a family reunion or your rec sports team, a vinyl cutter can turn your project into a really special keepsake. So keep reading for our 7 best vinyl cutters for t-shirts, plus our helpful buying guide.

In a hurry? Here are our top 3 picks:

Model/Width

Best For...

Approx. Price
(USD Retail)

Cricut Explore Air 2

12" wide

Crafters and Beginners

Cameo Pro

24" wide

Expert Crafters and Home Business (especially MacOS users)

silhouette cameo pro

Graphtec CE7000 series

15"/24"/50" 

Best for commerscial vinyl cutter

Cricut Explore Air 2: Best T-Shirt Vinyl Cutter for Beginners

cricut explore air 2

Cricut Explore Air 2 Specs List 

  • Machine type: Craft cutting machine
  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 12” x 12” or  12” x 24” mats, up to 2 mm deep
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 22.2″ x 7″ x 6″
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Software: Cricut Design Space
  • Support: Support by phone, e-mail, or online chat
  • Extra Features: free trial subscription to Cricut Access with purchase

The Cricut Explore Air 2 is the bestselling vinyl cutter machine for home crafters. But it’s also especially well suited for t-shirt making. It’s simple to use, it has decent software to help you design and import projects, and you don’t need a million accessories or expensive blades to get started.

Why the Explore Air 2 is a great choice for beginners

The Cricut explore Air is our choice for best cutter for t-shirt making (especially for beginners and home crafters) because it has a very attractive price point, and it has a very straightforward toolset.

The EA2 has suggested retail price of $250USD. However, it is routinely on sale for $220, $200 or even less. For all of the cool features included, the Explore Air 2 is an exceptional value for such a small up front investment.

We also recommend the EA2 because the included tool, the premium fine point blade, is the only tool you are going to need to cut heat transfer vinyl. Not only does the premium blade have a longer lifespan that Cricut’s regular blades, but cutting vinyl doesn’t dull a blade quickly, so your original blade should last months and months (or longer) before replacing.

Another great point in Cricut’s favor: you can replace their blades with cheaper generics. There are tons of options on Amazon for 45 degree blades that cost a fraction of the OEM tools.

Bottom line: If you are interested in making t-shirts as a hobby, or as a small side business but are unsure of making a big upfront investment, the Explore Air 2 is going to give you:

  • high quality cutting results
  • low initial purchase cost
  • high quality cutting tools that will last a long time
  • flexibility to cut all kinds of heat transfer materials
  • Easy to use software and access to huge image library of cutfiles

Is Cricut software easy to use?

The Explore Air 2 runs on Cricut Design Space software, newly available as a desktop app for both Windows and Mac computers. As creative software goes, it’s fairly basic, but it’s got all you need to get started making text-dominant shirt designs.

You can also add Cricut tested graphics through the Cricut Access creative subscription service. This means you can browse through a huge image library for files that have been tested by other Cricut users and combine it with your own text to make your own designs.

Case in point, this is a design I put together in just a few minutes using an image from the Cricut Access library and my own text. This would be great to give as a gift, and I would even consider selling shirts with this design. You don’t have to be a creative superstar to make attractive shirt designs with Cricut Design Space and the Access library.

cricut design space project example

Cricut Access members can use images from the library for commercial purposes under their “Angel Policy.” This policy sets out generous conditions that allows users to create finished projects like t-shirts using Cricut copyrighted material and sell up to 10,000 items per year. Read the full policy here before you make or sell any Cricut design, as terms and conditions can change.

If you are making more graphic-intensive designs in other software, you can import SVG files made in Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape or Affinity Designer into Design Space for cutting.

Cricut Explore Air 2 vs Maker

Why do we recommend the Explore Air 2 over its next-level sibling, the Cricut Maker? If t-shirts are what you are focusing on, the Explore Air 2 has all of the features you need. The Maker boasts an array of 12 different tools. You only need the basic blade to do all of your vinyl cutting, and you can do it as well on the EA2 as on the Maker.

Both machines cut at the same speed, both are capable of performing 2X faster cutting on vinyl, and the both take the same size mats. They both use the same software, they both have wireless connection options and you can use either with a tablet or with an iPhone.

The Explore Air 2 is about $150 less than the Maker, and it has all of the cutting capability you need for cutting heat transfer vinyl for t-shirts.

Does the Explore Air 2 do Matless Cutting?

That’s not to say the EA2 isn’t without its drawbacks for t-shirts, especially for making them at a larger scale. Because the Explore Air 2 requires a mat to cut, you have to be present to change mats between cuts if you are cutting multiples of the same design. Other vinyl cutters that can do roll-fed matless cutting run multiple copies of the same design without interruption.

If you are making t-shirts as gifts or for yourself, the Explore air 2 is a great choice. You can get a great machine that will meet all of your vinyl cutting needs for t-shirt graphics, including cutting printed vinyl.

2021: Explore 3 has entered the conversation

In June of 2021, Cricut released the next generation of the Explore family, the Explore 3. We would normally be pumped at the announcement of a new machine, but we wanted to be very careful to make a few important distinctions between the EA2 and the Explore 3.

The Explore Air 2 is still our top choice for beginners for t-shirt making. The Explore 3 comes with a higher price tag ($300) but we feel its changes do not make it a better choice for beginners in this category.

The big change that Cricut made with the Explore 3 was to add a matless cutting feature. That’s great right? Well, it will only cut Cricut-branded Smart materials. These materials are specially sized (13 inches wide) so you can’t use a standard 12 inch roll of another company’s HTV.

You can still use HTV vinyl like Siser, Thermoflex or WALAKut, but you must cut it with a mat, just like the Explore Air 2.

FWIW, the other big change in the Explore 3 is that the Smart-Set dial is gone and all of the material settings are now made in Design Space.

Explore Air 2 remains our top pick

Bottom line: For all the reasons outlined above, our pick for beginner t-shirt makers remains the Explore Air 2. We won’t recommend the Explore 3 at a higher price point, even if it now has roll-fed cutting capabilities, simply because it can’t cut that much more stuff than the Explore Air 2.

If Cricut discontinues the Explore Air 2, our recommendation for best cutter for beginners will change. In the meantime, if you are considering the Explore Air 2, we recommend getting it now, while the prices are low and while they are still in production.

What We Like

  • Low price, high quality
  • 1 year warranty
  • Simple software that imports SVG files
  • Simple material setting using the Smart Set Dial
  • Windows and Mac compatible
  • Tablet and Smartphone compatible
  • 2X cutting speed option for vinyl

What We Don’t Like

  • No option for matless cutting
  • Limited cutting width (12”)
  • Limited ability for Print-and-Cut projects (9.25″ x 6.75″)

Silhouette Portrait 3: a mini but mighty vinyl cutter for shirt makers

silhouette portrait 3 best portable vinyl cutter

Silhouette Portrait 3 Specs List 

  • Machine type: Craft cutting machine
  • Cutting Size: 8” x 12” max cutting area with a mat, 8” x 60’ max cutting dimensions without a mat. 2 mm max cutting depth
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 16.2″ x 5.5″ x 4.4″
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth. Windows and MacOS compatible. Smartphone compatible with Silhouette GO app (release TBA)
  • Warranty: 1 year limited warranty 
  • Software: Silhouette Studio
  • Support: Support by e-mail or online chat
  • Extra Features: Soon-to-be-released app for smartphones; now capable of matless cutting up to 60 feet (with roll feeder)

So, we outlined all of the reasons why we liked the Explore Air 2 the best for people just getting started in T-shirt making in the previous section. Low price, easy to use, simple but high quality tool selection. The Portrait 3 has all of those great features and then some.

First off, the Portrait 3 is very budget friendly. Its suggested retail price is $200, and it’s often on sale for $180. Add in special bundle offers at online retailers like Swing Design, where you can get a ton of heat transfer vinyl and other extras at big discounts, and you can be making T-shirts with the Portrait 3 for less than $250.

Like the Explore Air 2, the low up front cost for the Portrait is what really makes this cutter attractive for first time buyers just looking to stick a toe into t-shirt making.

Portrait tools: the Autoblade gets it done

The Portait has a single tool carriage – as opposed to the double carriage setups in the bigger Silhouette machines. But, if you are really interested in cutting HTV for t-shirts, this isn’t a problem. The included Autoblade is made for cutting vinyl, paper and cardstock, not only for the Portrait, but for the Cameo family as well.

If you are just cutting vinyl with the Autoblade, it should last for months and months before going dull. Cutting paper and cardstock is what really causes a blade to go dull quickly.

Our only issue with the Autoblade is that once the blade is dull, you have to chuck the whole unit and replace it. This past year, Autoblades (like everything else) have been in short supply due to Covid disruptions, so it can be frustrating to have your projects grind to a halt while you scramble for one vital replacement part.

Portrait 3 Autoblade

(Thankfully, the Autoblade supply seems to have abated for now, but the shortages should be a reminder to always have an extra on hand).

Is the Portrait 3 big enough to do the job?

You might be asking: is the Portrait 3 big enough to be the t-shirt maker I need? While the Portrait has a cut width of only 8 inches, that’s enough to create graphics on any size of t-shirt. Let me demonstrate.

For centered, front of shirt designs, Siser recommends 8″ x 8″ or 4″ x 10″ graphics. The Portrait 3 can easily print both sizes. For graphics longer than 8 inches, you simply need to rotate your design 90 degrees in Silhouette Studio. In this example, the graphic is 10 inches long and can easily be cut on a mat or roll fed vinyl

Silhouette software = Better Print & Cut

Silhouette machines have a much larger print and cut area than their Cricut counterparts – even the smaller Portrait 3 machine. According to Silhouette:

The maximum sizing of the possible print area is defined by your printer. The Silhouette Studio program will technically allow you to define your media size and place registration marks on larger page sizes according to your printer’s size restrictions.

The maximum cutting size is defined by your Silhouette cutting machine model.

If you have a Portrait model, then the maximum Print & Cut media size would be 8.5 x 11 inches.

What We Like

  • Low price, high quality
  • Free design software (Silhouette Studio) with lots of sophisticated features
  • Autoblade included
  • Matless cutting up to 60 feet
  • Better print and cut area than Cricut machines
  • 1 year warranty
  • Windows and Mac compatible

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited cutting width (8”)
  • Limited material width (9″ max media size)
  • Can’t use SVG files in free version of software
  • Can’t replace blade in Autoblade housing

Silhouette Cameo Pro 24″ Vinyl Cutter

24" silhouette cameo pro

Silhouette Cameo Pro Specs List 

  • Machine type: wide format desktop vinyl cutter 
  • Cutting Size: 24″ x 60 feet long (roll-fed) or 24″ x 24″ with cutting mat
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 34.5 x 6.7 x 7.7 inches; 19.4 lbs (8.8 kg)
  • Connection: via USB  or Bluetooth
  • Compatibility: Windows & Mac; Limited functions for mobile devices
  • Warranty: 1 year warranty 
  • Software: Silhouette Studio Basic included. Paid upgrades available
  • Support: email or online chat

If you want to step up your commercial production to the next level, the Silhouette Cameo Pro is an XL workhorse that can turn your hobby into a business. This vinyl cutter can make short work of detailed cuts for multi-layered t-shirt designs, as well as making detailed contour cuts of printed graphics.

The Cameo Pro has a big advantage over other home crafting machines: it can load 20″ rolls of heat transfer vinyl and print projects up to 60 feet long!

Wide Format Desktop Cutter for T-shirts

The 60 foot cutting length dwarfs other 24 inch cutters. For example, the Graphtec CE50 Lite (now discontinued, replaced by the Cameo Pro) could make cuts up to 3 meters long. The US Cutter MH721 28″ cutter can only manage cuts up to 8 feet long. The Roland CAMM1 GS24 (also 24″ wide) can cut up to 82 feet long, but boasts a price tag almost triple the cost of the Cameo Pro.

The Cameo Pro is one of the only 24″ vinyl cutters that is Mac compatible, and the only one available for less than $500. It uses the same tools as the rest of the Cameo 4 family, although the included Autoblade is the tool you’ll be relying on to cut HTV vinyl for t-shirts.

The Cameo 4 family has a big, enthusiastic following of t-shirt makers, and the addition of the Cameo Pro is a game changer for hobbyists looking to make their t-shirt craft a full time profession!

Beware of Cameo Blade Replacements

One of the only drawbacks to getting the Cameo Pro right now is the frustrating design of the Autoblade. Silhouette won’t let you change the just the blade in the housing when the blade gets dull (like you can do with Cricut blades).

When your blade is shot, you have to buy an entirely new blade assembly, which is not only expensive, but these days, when everything related to Silhouette seems to be in short supply and high demand, finding replacement blades for your cutter can be difficult and your business will suffer if you can’t find a blade to do your work.

What We Like

  • Capable of roll-fed matless cuts up to 60 feet
  • 1 year warranty
  • Outstanding print-and-cut capability
  • Cuts commercial width 20″ HTV rolls (24″ rolls of adhesive vinyl)
  • Excellent price for a 24” cutting machine ($500!)
  • Works with Mac and Windows computers
  • Autoblade is included with purchase

What We Don’t Like

  • Limited function with mobile devices
  • Free version of Silhouette Studio software can’t export SVG files
  • Can’t replace just the blade in the Autoblade housing; must replace entire tool (blade + plastic housing) when blade gets dull

Silhouette Cameo 4

Silhouette cameo 4

Silhouette Cameo 4 Specs List 

  • Machine type: Craft cutting machine
  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 12” x 12” or  12” x 24” mats, up to 3 mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 22.4″ x 6.7″ x 7.7″
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Warranty: 1 year limited warranty on hardware
  • Software: Silhouette Studio (free download with paid upgrades)
  • Support: e-mail or online chat
  • Extra Features: Double blade holder holds tools for cutting, scoring, or writing

If you are looking to an alternative to the Cricut Explore Air 2 that is capable of matless cutting, then the Silhouette Cameo 4 is a worthy choice. This vinyl cutter is the flagship of the Silhouette brand, and it’s ready to be your t-shirt making workhorse right out of the box.

The Cameo 4 has a built in roll feeder that will give a boost to cutting multiple vinyl transfers without you needing to change and reload mats. Cutting straight from the roll will allow you to schedule multiple projects or repeat the same cut over and over. The cross-cutter on the back of the Cameo 4 lets you slice off each cut as it’s completed so you can keep your projects sorted out.

What Cameo 4 tools do I need for cutting vinyl?

The Cameo 4 comes with the Autoblade, which is a self-adjusting blade used for cutting vinyl and paper. That’s all you need to get started cutting heat transfer vinyl for t-shirts. The Cameo 4 offers other blades for cutting fabric and thicker materials (the rotary blade and the Kraft blade, respectively) but the Autoblade is all you need for all kinds of heat transfer vinyl.

(Silhouette also sells the Punch tool, which creates punch holes in the negative space of designs to make weeding easier. This tool could be very useful when you are cutting complex designs for your shirts.)

What Silhouette Studio license do you need for cutting vinyl?

The Cameo 4 is powered by the Silhouette Studio desktop app. This software has its positives and negatives. First, it is more designer-focused than Cricut Design Space. It requires a bit more time to master, but it has more features that will let you create more professional looking designs.

However, Silhouette Studio is “freemium” software. The free version lets you do many functions (certainly more than Cricut Design Space), but to access certain advance functions you need to pay for a license. For example, the free version of Silhouette Studio does not let you import SVG files, nor does it let you save your original designs as SVGs to share with friends.

The price of the Cameo 4 is generally slightly higher than the Cricut Explore Air 2, but less than the Cricut flagship model, the Cricut Maker. Still, the cost of software and extra tools can drive the price up quickly for a machine that has a slight edge over the Explore Air 2.

What We Like

  • Matless cutting and roll feeder for more efficient t-shirt vinyl cutting
  • Self-adjusting Autoblade for cutting vinyl
  • Free version of Silhouette Studio has lots of designer-friendly features
  • Optional Punch tool to make weeding easier
  • Compatible with Windows or Mac computers
  • 1 year warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Free version of software can’t import or export SVG files
  • Limited function tablet/smartphone app

Brother ScanNCut DX85: Best Vinyl Cutter for the Classroom

the new brother scan-n-cut sdx85 home craft cutter

Brother ScanNCut DX85 Specs List 

  • Machine type: Craft cutting machine
  • Cutting Size: Cuts on 12” x 12” or  12” x 24” mats, up to 3 mm thick
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 20.1 x 8.5 x 6.8 inches; 12.8 lbs
  • Connection: via USB or wireless via Bluetooth
  • Warranty: 1 year limited parts and labor, 2 year limited on electronic components and printed circuit boards
  • Software: Brother Canvas Workspace software
  • Support: phone or online chat
  • Extra Features: Touch screen pad to create or edit designs right on the machine

Brother has been quietly making very fine home craft cutters geared towards quilters for years, and has recently released the Scan-N-Cut DX85 craft-cutting machine. For people looking to make t-shirts, this machine may not be the most obvious choice, but it has a few features the Cameo 4 and Explore Air 2 lack that may fit your situation.

Does the Brother ScanNCut 2 require a computer?

First off, the Brother DX85 does not require a computer or internet access to cut files. It has a built-in touchscreen interface that allows users to create, import, edit, cut and save projects right on the machine.

This is a great feature if you are looking for a vinyl cutter for classroom projects or other small maker spaces. Multiple users can design projects on their own computer, save the design on a USB drive then plug the drive into the Scan-N-Cut for cutting or drawing. It’s also great to get ready-to-cut artwork from clients that you can just plug into the machine and start cutting right away.

This is also a great feature for people who are not confident learning new software. You can still design text art and use the built in designs and fonts to create sharp looking designs.

ScanNCut DX85 tools

The Scan-N-Cut DX85 also features a single tool carriage, as opposed to double tool carriages on similar Cricut and Silhouette machines. If you are primarily focused on cutting vinyl for t-shirts, however, this detail shouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

With this new machine, Brother has released 3 Autoblade options that automatically self-adjusts to the correct depth and cutting pressure.

  • ScanNCut Autoblade
  • Autoblade for thin fabric (optional)
  • Autoblade for Vinyl (optional)

Does the new Brother DX85 have a roll feeder?

Yes! Great news for Brother users who are hoping to extend their output. ScanNCut DX85 cutters are compatible with an optional roll feeder that will allow you to cut projects up to 70 feet!

Setting up the roll feeder requires adjusting a few settings on the machine and also in the software. With the purchase of a roll feeder, you get an activation code that must be entered into Canvas Workspace to unlock the roll feeder cutting settings.

Brother Canvas Workspace App features

The DX85 works with Brother Canvas Workspace software, a free and user-friendly design app that has most of the same features as Silhouette Studio, except that you can import SVG files in the free version.

On the downside, the DX85 is a more expensive cutter than the Explore Air 2 (but on par with the Cameo 4 –suggested retail price of about $300). Brother does sell 12 x 24” mats for larger cutting projects, but a 12 x 12” mat comes standard with purchase.

The ScanNCut DX85 works with Windows and Mac computers and can connect via Wi-Fi or USB cable. Similarly, tablet and smartphone users can download the Canvas Workspace app and use their mobile device for cutting projects.

What We Like

  • Cuts without a computer
  • Good for multiple user situations like classrooms
  • Touch screen interface for creating, editing and saving designs
  • Easy to use software that can import SVG files
  • Compatible with Windows or Mac computers
  • Design app for mobile devices
  • 1 year warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Single tool carriage
  • Optional roll feeder is pricey ($50)

US Cutter MH Series: Best Home Business Cutter for T-Shirts

uscutter mh series best vinyl cutter for small business

US Cutter MH Series Specs List 

  • Machine type: entry level vinyl cutter for small or home business
  • Cutting Size:
    • MH365 (14 inch): 10” x 8 ft (96”)
    • MH721 (28 inch): 24.63” x 8 ft (96”)
    • MH871 (34 inch): 30.63” x 8 ft (96”)
    • MH1351 (50 inch): 49.5” x 8 ft (96”)
  • Connection: via USB or serial cable – no wireless connection
  • Compatibility: Windows (Mac hacks possible)
  • Warranty: 1 year warranty with option to purchase additional 1 year extended warranty
  • Software: VinylMaster Cut (Basic Edition) with optional paid upgrades to Vinylmaster Pro or VinylMaster  Letter
  • Support: Free lifetime phone support and lifetime access to USCutter online support. Online support includes access to knowledge base and active user forum.

If you are looking for an inexpensive wide format vinyl cutter for t-shirts, banners or signs, the MH series from US Cutter could be the right fit for you.  There are four different widths of MH series cutters that can be used as desktop cutters or with a stand.

  • MH365 (14 inch): cuts 10” wide x 8 ft (96”) long – starts at $220
  • MH721 (28 inch): cuts 24.63” wide x 8 ft (96”) long – starts at $300
  • MH871 (34 inch): cuts 30.63” wide x 8 ft (96”) long – starts at $350
  • MH1351 (50 inch): cuts 49.5” wide x 8 ft (96”) long – starts at $530

MH Series: Entry level commercial vinyl cutter

This model of vinyl cutter is a great choice if you are starting a small or home based t-shirt business. You can cut multiple projects at once for higher volume efficiency, although the MH series can’t do contour cutting (print-then-cut) projects.

The MH series comes bundled with VinylMaster Cut software, which is another “freemium” design program. You can accomplish a lot with the free version, but paid upgrades can expand the type of projects you can do. VinylMaster cut works only with Windows OS, but you can get the MH Series to work with Mac computers if you use paid design software like Sure Cuts a Lot.

This vinyl cutter doesn’t offer wireless connections and you can’t connect to a mobile device either. It has just one tool carriage but it cuts with Roland blades, the commercial standard for vinyl cutters. They last a long time and are cheap to replace.

The MH series is cheap, but don’t mistake low price for poor quality. These machines come with a 1 year warranty with an option to extend for a second year. Additionally, US Cutter offers lifetime phone support and access to their user forum for troubleshooting. You can even order replacement parts like motors, motherboards and carriages to extend the lifespan of these machines.

What We Like

  • Business quality machines for low prices
  • Wide format cutting
  • Commercial quality cutting blade
  • One year warranty
  • Lifetime phone support
  • Replacement parts available for DIY repair
  • Lots of great bundle options available
  • Try before you buy software

What We Don’t Like

  • Windows only software
  • No wireless connection
  • No print then cut

Roland CAMM1 GS-24 High Speed Vinyl Cutter

roland camm1 gs-24 vinyl cutter

Roland CAMM1 GS-24 Specs List 

  • Machine type: entry level commercial cutter
  • Cutting Size: 23” wide by 82 feet long
  • Machine Dimensions (l x w x h): 33.5 x 12.2 x 9.2 inches; 30 lbs (13.5 kg)
  • Connection: via USB  – no wireless connection
  • Compatibility: Windows; Mac only with Adobe Illustrator plugin
  • Warranty: 3 year warranty 
  • Software: Roland CutStudio. Mac OS users must use the Adobe Illustrator plugin to use this cutter
  • Support: email support and user forums

If you are looking to upgrade to a professional-quality cutter for growing your t-shirt business, the CAMM1 GS-24 is a great choice. It is a fantastic machine for cutting printed vinyl and HTV, but also capable of cutting thicker materials for signs and displays.

The CAMM1’s excellent features are its combination of simplicity and speed. It operates from a computer connection or as a standalone machine. The touch controls let you adjust speed, cutting depth and force as you cut.

From a shirt designer’s perspective, it’s the speed that really matters. The CAMM1 cuts at 20 inches per second, letting you make short work of large volume projects.

What file types are supported by CutStudio software?

Roland also bundles its CutStudio software with the CAMM1 GS-24. Unfortunately, this software is not free to download before purchase ( no try before you buy). It also does not support SVG files, although it will work with BMP, JPG, STX, AI and EPS file formats.

This software only works with Windows operating systems. To use the CAMM1 GS-24 with a Mac, you need a software plugin for Adobe Illustrator. (The Illustrator plugin also works with Windows.) A Corel Draw plugin is also available; it also only works on Windows machines.

Finally, The GS-24 has a stellar 3 year warranty and an optional 5 year service contract cover phone support, access to training videos, free driver updates and replacement blades and cutting strips (in year four and five of agreement).

What We Like

  • Fast and accurate light commercial cutting machine
  • 24 inch cutting width
  • Cuts 20 inches per second
  • Cut projects up to 82 feet long
  • Excellent print-then-cut contour cutting
  • 3 year warranty (with product registration)
  • Optional 5 year premium technical support plan
  • Standalone operation option

What We Don’t Like

  • CutStudio software doesn’t work with Mac or mobile devices
  • CutStudio doesn’t support SVG files
  • No wireless connectivity

Graphtec CE7000 series: Best Pro-level Vinyl Cutter

graphtec ce7000 series best commercial vinyl cutting machine

Graphtec CE7000 Specs List 

  • Machine type: Professional-level vinyl cutter for home or small business
  • Cutting Size:
    • CE7000-40 – 15” x 164 feet
    • CE7000-60 – 24” x 164 feet
    • CE7000-130 – 50” x 164 feet
  • Machine Dimensions (length x width x height):
    • CE7000-40 – 30.4″ x 11.5″ x 12.3″; 27.7 lbs
    • CE7000-60 – 39.6″ x 23″ x 43″; 51 lbs.
    • CE7000-130 – 67″ x 32″ x 48″; 112.4 lbs
  • Connection: via USB 
  • Warranty: 2 year standard warranty, 5 year extended warranty
  • Software:
    • Cutting Master 4 – plugin for Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw Suite. 
    • Graphtec Studio – standalone design software for Mac and Windows (included with purchase)
    • Graphtec Pro Studio – for Windows (included with purchase)
    • Pro Studio Plus – Windows only – available as add-on with purchase 
  • Support: phone and email support available. In person service available at authorized service centers across US and Canada

If you are really looking to launch a serious t-shirt business featuring printed vinyl, then the new CE7000 series from Graphtec could be perfect for you. Paired with a high quality, wide format printer, these cutters make cutting printed vinyl t-shirt designs in high volume effortless and speedy.

Capable of cutting projects up to 164 feet long(!), the CE7000 series is available in 3 different widths for shop of all sizes.

  • CE7000-40: cuts 15” wide x 164 ft
  • CE7000-60: cuts 24” wide x 164 ft
  • CE7000-130: cuts 50” wide x 164 ft

Graphtec cutting software features

The CE7000 series is also capable of barcode reading for easy offline, stand-alone cutting projects. It is also one of the few commercial-quality cutters on the list with Mac compatible software. Cutting printed vinyl quickly and accurately is paramount; the Advanced Registration Mark Sensing system (ARMS) version 8.0 is new and improved for print-then-cut projects.

These vinyl cutters are pricey compared to other models on the list, but their quality ensures this is a sound investment in your t-shirt business. Graphtec offers a 2-year warranty with an option to extend up to 5 years.  

What We Like

  • High volume cutting machine for business
  • Best Vinyl cutting machine for printed HTV
  • 2 year warranty (and option to extend to 5 year warranty)
  • Try before you buy software
  • Mac compatible software
  • Superior print-then-cut performance

What We Don’t Like

  • Catch basket sold separately

Buying Guide: How to shop for a Vinyl Cutter for T-shirts

If you are looking for a vinyl cutter just for t-shirt making, you don’t need to worry about machines with a lot of features meant to entice crafters and hobbyists. Many of those fancy extra tools just don’t apply to cutting vinyl and you don’t need to worry if your machine is fully loaded. What you need to focus on is a machine that can make accurate cuts, but not necessarily cut with blinding speed.

Roll feed vs. Mat feed Vinyl Cutters

If you are cutting more than a couple of t-shirt designs at a time, you are quickly going to appreciate the value of having a roll-fed cutting machine. This allows you to schedule multiple jobs to be cut in succession or cut several copies of the same design in a row.

If you are doing mat-fed cutting, you have to be on standby to peel and weed each piece of vinyl as it comes off the machine before you can use the mat to make your next cut.

One solution to this is to have multiple mats, but that’s a stopgap solution compared to the convenience of using a roll-fed cutter. However, not all roll fed machines are created equal; Different machines have different capabilities, from the Silhouette Cameo (capable of 10 feet of roll cutting) and the Graphtec CE7000 vinyl cutter, capable of cutting up to 164 feet.

If you are planning t-shirt graphics with photos, you will need to consider the print-then-cut capabilities of the cutting machine you select. Most of the vinyl cutters we’ve listed perform contour cutting of printed images; some have limitations.

The Cricut Explore Air 2, for example, can only cut 9.25″ x 6.75″ printed images. You might find that to be too small for t-shirt graphics you have in mind. Commercial-grade cutters often specialize in print-then-cut projects, so if this is something that you are going to be doing a lot of, an upgrade to a commercial machine would be worth it.

Vinyl Cutting Software for T-shirts

Before you buy a vinyl cutter, we recommend you download and experiment with the software to see comfortable you are. Most companies offer try-before-you buy options for their software, as well as tutorials and how-to videos to help you master the basic, easy to learn design elements.

By starting your purchase research with the software, you’ll save yourself lots of headaches when you actually unbox your vinyl cutting machine. Countless makers with years of experience have shared that they put off starting projects with their new machines because they found the software too intimidating.

Try a few different programs out and make a few designs from scratch. The software is the gateway to making your t-shirts, and if you master the learning curve early, you’ll be ready to start your projects as soon as your machine arrives.

Warranty, Returns and Support Policies

You should always check the warranty details before buying a new piece of tech, including vinyl cutters. Most companies offer at least 1 year warranty, but you will want to read the fine print to see if there are any exceptions. If you are considering a commercial-quality cutter, there are some machines that come with 2 or 3 year warranties, plus options to extend up to 5 years.

You’ll also want to check out the returns policy for any vinyl cutter before you buy, especially if you are purchasing one as a gift. Read up on of restocking fees or other surprises before you buy. If you are purchasing from a third-party retailer, you may have to pay your own shipping on a return.

There are also differing levels of support for vinyl cutters. Some companies offer phone, email and chat support, some just offer support by email or chat. If you have a strong preference for getting phone support, make sure you confirm it’s available before you make your purchase.

Conclusion

Finding the right vinyl cutter to make custom t-shirts doesn’t have to be that hard. While there are lots of craft cutting machines available for home and small business users, cutting vinyl for shirts doesn’t require the machine with the fanciest features and biggest array of tools.

We think the most important factors are quality of cut over speed, the most comfortable software for the user, and the best ability to cut printed vinyl. If you take these three factors into consideration for your projects, you’ll be sure to get a top selection of vinyl cutter for your t-shirt projects.

Related: Read our buying guide for Best Heat Press Machines here.

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